… One of Bai Shan Lin’s operations at Kwakwani
Days after Government downplayed the extent of logging by a major Chinese firm, there is now mounting evidence of a massive cover-up by the Administration.
Residents of Region 10 are now calling on President Donald Ramotar to visit Kwakwani and other areas in the Upper Berbice River, to intervene in what they say is a clear raping of the nation’s resources.
Bai Shan Lin, a Chinese company with a growing presence in Guyana, is being accused of wholesale logging, contrary to a national policy geared to discourage the export of logs.
It is believed now that the company, through joint ventures and other means to disguise the true extent of its activities, has exported hundreds of containers of logs in the last few months alone. The company has been here for more than six years.
Not only is there growing evidence that the Administration helped facilitated the way for the logging company to conduct exportation, but the sheer extent of logs being harvested is staggering in its very proportions.
Caption for video above: An aerial view of some of the logs to be shipped out of Guyana by Bai Shan Lin
Based on a growing number of complaints, Kaieteur News flew over the Kwakwani and Ituni areas, Region 10, yesterday and observed huge stockpiles of thousands of high-value Wamara logs awaiting exportation.
Wamara is said to be the most expensive wood in Guyana, in high demand for its use in flooring, furniture and walls.
From the air, it was an unbelievable sight. As far as the eye could see, at a location east of the Kwakwani bauxite operations, the logs were piled high, ready to be placed in containers. At least four 40-foot containers were being loaded at the time.
Some 10-15 acres of land had been cleared to facilitate the stockpiles.
There were several haulers and loaders at the site.
As the heavy duty loaders worked, checkers- mainly Chinese personnel – were seen scurrying around.
Container trucks were moving in and out of the area at regular intervals.
The compound which included a drop gate was outfitted with sleeping quarters and primitive looking toilets.
At the Kwakwani waterfront, at the Berbice River just a mile or so away from that major stockpile, another clearing was seen with a vessel named Yuan Heng Freighter anchored nearby. There were several piles of logs there too.
A fly-over of the roads leading from Kwakwani and Ituni to Linden saw several container trucks moving back and forth. The majority of vehicles were of Bai Shan Lin’s concerns. The roads were in bad shape from the heavy trucks.
Along the many trails, several piles of logs were seen at intervals, waiting for pickups.
Down at Linden, in the waterfront area, Bai Shan Lin’s ship-building activities were going on. A large pontoon was anchored in the Demerara River. There were several trucks, loaders and even fuel vehicles neatly parked there.
At Ituni yesterday, a community located between Linden and Kwakwani, residents were vocal about the activities of Bai Shan Lin.
“We read in the papers about one or two trucks a day that the Guyana Forestry Commission is talking about. Pure nonsense! We have several trucks filled with logs passing through this area daily. People don’t want to say anything because some of them are benefitting.”
According to one businessman, the activities are not benefitting the Ituni community as the Chinese are buying wholesale from the city.
“We are heavily concerned about what is taking place. I have lived here all my life and what is taking place here in terms of the number of containers, is simply unbelievable. (President Donald) Ramotar should come see for himself.”
The extent of the logging activities has been downplayed by the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Government regulatory body that oversees the industry.
Responding to a report in Kaieteur News last week, Commissioner James Singh insisted that Bai Shan Lin only exported 375 containers between January and June of this year- about two or so per day.
However, residents debunked this saying; it is more like 10 containers per day that are being moved through the community.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Bai Shan Lin, to mask its true exports, has been using the small loggers listed on its Customs and GFC declarations.
The small loggers in the Upper Berbice area are not too willing to talk about this illegal arrangement as for the first time in years; they have been assured a market. However, a number of them remain concerned over the rate of harvesting that is taking place.
Wood exports have risen by some 60 per cent for the first half of the year, as compared to the corresponding period in 2013. The bulk of the log exports, insiders said are as a result of Bai Shan Lin’s activities.
GFC has been silent on which company is responsible for this marked increase.
A call to the GFC, Commissioner James Singh’s office yesterday was met with word that he was on leave.
Edward Goberdan who is acting in his stead, refused to provide any information as it relates to Bai Shan Lin.
He instead, directed queries to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment.
The official at the Ministry asked that the queries be sent in via email.
This publication was told subsequently, that Singh will hold a press conference soon to deal with all of the outstanding questions surrounding the arrangement between Bai Shan Lin and Guyana.
Yesterday, Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, who is charged with issuing work permits for foreign nationals, said that the Administration wants evidence of what is being alleged in Kaieteur News.
Rohee was at the time speaking at his party’s press conference, in his capacity as the General Secretary.
There is growing anger over Government’s unclear policy regarding foreign investors.
While locals have been complaining of enormous challenges in acquiring concessions, the door is virtually left open to foreigners.
In the case of Bai Shan Lin, the company was able to import luxury vehicles, over 200 trucks, 60 loaders and other heavy vehicles with the taxes all waived. The shocking thing is that Bai Shan Lin is just concentrating on logging using the equipment he specifically imported for this purpose.
Already, in a clear signal of its intent, the Chinese company has advertised for workers to fill gaps as it moves into a large scale logging activity mode. (See pictures below)
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